Lawyers for American victims of a Hamas triple suicide bombing who successfully
sued Iran for damages have slammed the US Department of Justice’s backing of a
court ruling preventing the plaintiffs from obtaining information about Iran’s
US-based assets, The Jerusalem Post learned this week.
The lawsuit, Rubin
v. The Islamic Republic of Iran, first made headlines in 2003 when the US
District Court in Washington, DC, awarded 33-year-old American Daniel Miller and
other victims seriously wounded in the attack $71.5 million in compensatory
damages from Iran.
The court ruled that Iran was responsible for the
attack, because it had provided funding and training to Hamas.
in the nine years since that ruling, Miller and the other plaintiffs have been
unable to obtain justice from the Islamic Republic, because the Iranian
government has refused to pay out the damages.
In an odd twist of events,
the lawsuit has led to accusations recently that the US government is supporting
Iran by filing court briefs in support of Tehran’s decision to hide its assets
and avoid paying Miller and the other victims.
After the 2003 court
ruling awarding them compensation from Iran, Miller and the other plaintiffs
served the Islamic Republic with a request to produce documents regarding all of
its US-based assets.
Iran, which had previously refused to appear in US
court, immediately hired a lawyer and sought a protective order to shield its US
assets from the terror victims’ discovery requests.
Eventually, the US
Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Iran and concluded that the terror victims
could not obtain information about all Iranian assets in the US, and that
instead they could only seek discovery about specific Iranian
In what is set to be a landmark decision this month, the US
Supreme Court is expected to decide by June 25 whether to review the Court of
Appeals ruling denying Miller access to information about Iranian
Late last month, in a move that has provoked anger among terror
victims, the US Department of Justice filed an amicus brief to the Supreme
Court, arguing that the Court of Appeals ruling was correct.
a foreign state to produce extensive material pertaining to its assets may
impose significant burdens and impugn the state’s dignity, and may have
implications for the United States’ foreign relations,” the Department of
Justice brief reads.
Theodore Olson, a former US solicitor-general and
the lawyer representing Miller, slammed the US government over its position on
the matter, saying it was “aiding and abetting Iranian terrorism by supporting
Iran’s attempts to conceal its assets,” because Congress had passed laws
permitting terrorist victims to sue state sponsors of terror as a way to deter
“It is outrageous that the [US] State Department would support
Iran’s efforts to evade a judgment properly entered by a United States court in
favor of American citizens,” Olson told the Post.
Olson said that the
question of whether Iran financed the Hamas terrorist attacks that devastated
Miller’s life and those of his fellow victims was not in dispute.
is unquestionably liable to pay the victims of its crimes, but it has made every
effort to avoid paying by repeatedly concealing its assets,” he
“The victims in our case simply seek what every other judgment
creditor is entitled to obtain: The identity and location of the judgment
debtor’s assets,” he added.
Olson said Miller and the other victims faced
a “critical difficulty,” in that they cannot begin attachment proceedings to
obtain the damages they were awarded, if they are unable to locate Iranian
assets in the US.
“The [Obama] administration’s position that Daniel
cannot receive even this minimal discovery about the location of Iranian assets
prevents him from even attempting to recover his judgment against Iran,” Olson
told the Post.
The issue of victims of Iranian- sponsored terror being
unable to locate Iranian assets to pay US court rulings against the Islamic
Republic extends far beyond the case of Rubin v. The Islamic
Courtroom victories by victims of terror against Iran have
highlighted the extent to which the Islamic Republic funds Palestinian terror in
Israel and neighboring territories.
Last month, the US District Court
awarded a $332m. judgment against Iran and Syria to the family of a 16-year-old
boy, Daniel Wultz, who died of horrific injuries in a 2006 Hamas suicide bombing
in Tel Aviv.
In March, the same court awarded two victims of the 1983 US
Marine barracks bombing in Beirut $44.6m. in damages from Iran.
a US federal judge ruled in a separate lawsuit, Peterson v. Iran, that Iran must
pay $2.65 billion to the families of servicemen killed in the Beirut attack, the
largest nonnuclear explosion on earth at that time.
plaintiffs in all these cases have actively sought Iranian assets that could be
seized to pay the court-awarded damages, they have so far been
At the same time as lawyers for the Rubin v. Iran
plaintiffs are fighting their case in the US Supreme Court, other terror victims
and their supporters are pushing forward a bipartisan bill which would subject
Iranian assets to US court jurisdiction, thereby releasing them to pay against
judgements of lawsuits brought against the Islamic Republic.
months, lawyers in the Peterson v. Iran suit have attached nearly $2b. in
Iranian debt-securities, which sits frozen in a Citibank account in New
Allegedly, Luxembourg-based clearing house and bank Clearstream is
holding the money, which came to light last November after the Peterson
plaintiffs sued Clearstream over the assets.
Clearstream denies holding
funds for Iran, while Citibank is fighting for the courts to unfreeze the
Meanwhile, Olson said that the only issue now at stake for the Rubin
v. Iran case in the US Supreme Court is whether Miller and the other terror
victims can obtain basic information about Iranian assets in the
“Iran has refused to provide even this basic discovery, which the
victims need in order to determine which assets might be subject to attachment,”
“If the issue arose in the future whether the victims are
permitted to attach any particular asset – cultural asset or otherwise – Iran
would have the right to assert any objections it might have at the time.”